McArthur, Peter

Peter McArthur, writer (b at Ekfrid Township, Ont 10 Mar 1866; d at Toronto 28 Oct 1924). A prolific and popular writer whose body of work includes a critical appreciation of Stephen LEACOCK (1923), short fiction and occasional poetry, McArthur is best remembered for his humourous casual ESSAYS. Although he published his first book, To Be Taken With Salt: Being An Essay on Teaching One's Grandmother to Suck Eggs, in 1903, his reputation was established primarily through his twice-weekly contributions to the Toronto GLOBE (from 1909 to 1924) and his less regular appearances in the Farmer's Advocate (1910 to 1922), His most popular books - In Pastures Green (1915), The Red Cow and her Friends (1919) and Around Home (1925) - are compilations of these columns.

An early Canadian proponent of the back-to-the-land movement and a dedicated promoter of agrarianism (seeRURAL SOCIETY, ENGLISH CANADA), McArthur was drawn to an idealistic vision of Canada's rural past and stories of the heroic pioneer. His most successful essays reflect this belief: organized according to the routines of farm life or patterns of the natural world, they are the contemplative, first-person reflections of a contented farmer-philosopher who represents his farm as a place of peace, a place of refuge and a home far removed from the excesses troubling the modern world.